August 31, 2021

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Edge

Media Bash Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal, Ignore Supporters

After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden recently made the decision to fully withdraw U.S. forces from the country. The U.S.-backed Afghan government quickly collapsed and the Taliban, which harbored Al Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks, regained control, posing dangerous consequences for innocent Afghans.

In the wake of the withdrawal, mainstream coverage has centered criticism on Biden, building arguments on perspectives from people responsible for two decades of failure in Afghanistan. Ignoring the misdeeds of officials from past administrations to blame Biden, particularly after lauding his administration consistently so far, is leading to a distorted narrative on America’s wars. 

Further, the absence of pro-withdrawal voices may be an intentional media strategy to support renewed U.S. military involvement. 

Read the full report on The Edge.

Substantiative Coverage of Pipeline Protests Missing from Mainstream Media

The eight-year sentencing of Jessica Reznicek, an Iowan Water Protector arrested for her part in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, has once again spotlighted the criminalization that environmental and climate activists face in the United States. 

Yet, as the negative ecological effects of these pipeline projects become more apparent, and the attacks on water protectors become more brutal, the mainstream media continues to treat the construction of these destructive pipelines and matters of protester criminalization as non-issues. 

Though the Biden administration shut down the high-profile Keystone XL pipeline, it has since continued to back several other damaging pipeline projects. Those protesting these pipelines, like Enbridge’s Line 3, have faced felony charges and excessive police violence. Still, it seems, mainstream media is uninterested in covering them.

 Read the full report on The Edge.

Upcoming Events

Plastics: The Other Pandemic 

After more than 150 years of plastic production, the material has invaded every living corner of the Earth. As humans and animals ingest up to 52,000 particles of microplastics per year, giant vortexes of trash swirl in the Pacific Ocean.

For System Change Not Climate Change, PCIM intern Alex Hartzog examines the smothering ubiquity of plastic pollution and advice from experts on how to combat it locally, in Ithaca, New York, and elsewhere. Stay tuned as Hartzog delves into broader global impacts on health and the Earth in the coming weeks.

Hartzog and Maura Stephens, independent journalist and former associate director of PCIM, are hosting a webinar concerning further research on plastic waste and how to mitigate it. Join on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

More from The Edge

Social Media Misinformation and the Need for Better Digital Media Literacy

In an age when most Americans get their news from digital platforms, and when misinformation about the pandemic is spreading just as fast as the virus itself, digital media literacy is more important than ever. Recent studies have found that popularly used social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook have been central to the spread of misinformation, particularly about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

Research by Media Matters concluded that despite community guidelines that specifically prohibit “misinformation related to COVID-19, vaccines, and anti-vaccine disinformation,” TikTok’s algorithm frequently amplifies lies about COVID-19 and vaccines to its user base. 

Young people are particularly susceptible to online misinformation; to stem its spread, students must be taught to think critically about the media they consume.

Read the full report on The Edge.

U.S. Media Should Hold Policymakers Accountable Amid Afghanistan Withdrawal

Following the U.S.’s recent withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation, the Taliban have claimed much of the country over the past weeks. Coverage from U.S. mainstream media since has ignored South Asian civilian deaths and uncritically repeated narratives from the U.S. government, which has a documented history throughout the war of lying to the public.

Past reports detail the corruption, dishonesty, and ineptitude of the military presence over the past decades, alongside the extreme economic toll exacerbated by the lost opportunity to invest war money into Afghanistan’s infrastructure. 

News media now must remind the public of previously revealed truths about the war’s operations that consecutive presidential administrations have attempted to keep secret. 

Read the full report on The Edge.

Jeremy Scahill on Advocacy, Corruption and Blackwater

Founding editor of The Intercept and Izzy winner Jeremy Scahill spoke at Ithaca College concerning his 2007 book, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” Here he discussed some of the opaque and deadly practices that the U.S. government employed during the war in Iraq, and that the media should continue to discuss now.

Scahill delved into his book’s contents, which investigate the ramifications of outsourcing war, particularly to the bloody and secretive contractor mercenary company Blackwater Worldwide. He further described several of his interviews on mainstream television, including one with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, wherein his analysis of the U.S.’s ongoing wars took the segment “off the rails.”

Scahill also explored his path as a journalist, which at the time culminated in becoming a best-selling author and Polk Award winner for Blackwater.

Watch his full appearance here.

In Other News

1. Last US forces leave Afghanistan, bringing an end to a 20-year war launched in aftermath of September 11 attacks (The Independent)

2. Maybe You Missed It, but the Internet ‘Died’ Five Years Ago (The Atlantic)

3. Authorities Harder On George Floyd Protesters Than Jan. 6 Rioters: Report (HuffPost)

4. Afghanistan: US investigates civilian deaths in Kabul strike (BBC)

5. Biden to speak on Afghanistan as aide says US ‘shifted from military to diplomatic mission’ (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.